Paolini knocks out Rybakina in epic quarter-final

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Paolini knocks out Rybakina in epic quarter-final

Jasmine Paolini booked a place in the final four of the French Open for the first time, knocking out fourth seed Elena Rybakina in an epic quarter-final.

The 28-year-old Italian staved off a fightback from the Kazakh former Wimbledon champion to seal a stunning 6-2 4-6 6-4 win, setting up a semi-final meeting with world No 2 Aryna Sabalenka or 17-year-old Mirra Andreeva, who meet later on Wednesday at Roland Garros.

Playing in her first career Grand Slam quarter-final, Paolini got off to a confident start, cruising through the opening set but suffered a major wobble when losing four service games in a row across the second and third.

Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan looks on in the Women's Singles first round match against Greet Minnen of Belgium on Day Three of the 2024 French Open at at Roland Garros on May 28, 2024 in Paris, France. (Photo by Mateo Villalba/Getty Images)

Image: Rybakina mounted a comeback in the second set but was ultimately denied a first French Open semi-final

The 12th-seeded Paolini had twice broken Rybakina in the second set, only to immediately be broken back and, rather than clinch victory in straight sets, she was suddenly forced into a decider as she lost her serve yet again.

The two players traded four further breaks to open the third set before Paolini finally returned to the level she showed early in the match, taking advantage of a slew of Rybakina errors to earn the decisive break in the ninth game before serving out for a famous victory.

“It’s an unbelievable feeling. It was a really tough match,” Paolini said after clinching a semi-final spot.

“I think I was a little bit too emotional in the second set but I said to myself, ‘it’s good, she’s a great champion, so it can happen’.

“I tried to stay there every point. I managed to come back, stay focused and fight again.”

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